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Sunday, 30 April 2017 05:54

The pearl of Ferghana valley

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Category:Trekking
Duration:  daytrip
Best Season: May - September
Difficulty:
Moderate, passes at 3300 meter
Requirements
: Trekking shoes,

waterproof clothes, hat, sunscreen & sunglasses.

Distance: 15 km in trek

 

DESCRIPTION: Observe wildlife in a protected natural park. Escape the summer heat of the Ferghana Valley. Relax in solitude surrounded by the cool juniper forests of the Kyrgyz Ata National Reserve.  The sound of flowing water and birdsong provides a serene environment for hiking along ancient nomadic trails.  Keen eyes may spot furry marmots, soaring eagles and other birdlife. Walk in the cool dawn around the summer camps of local Kyrgyz herdsmen busy with milking cows and mares.  Spend one (or more) evenings under the wide starry sky and sleep soundly after hours of fun in the fresh mountain air.

ITINERARY: Osh city – Nookat village – Kyrgyzata (national park) - Karagoi summer camp – Nookat village – Osh city.

Drive to Kyrgyzata national reserve by car, 2 hours or 75 km. Walk up to the summit of the mountain (3300 m) and down to the shepherd’s yurts (4 hours). 

Sunday, 30 April 2017 05:52

The Kolduck lake

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Category:Trekking
Duration:  daytrip
Best Season: May - September
Difficulty:
Moderate, passes at 3128 meter
Requirements
: Trekking shoes,

waterproof clothes, hat, sunscreen & sunglasses.

Distance: 15 km in trek

 

DESCRIPTION: Nice like appeared from the mountain springs and glaciers.Easy hiking trails. Locals go there for fishing and killing time. People from the nearby villages come with their yurts to camp and spend whole summer to find good pastures for their livestock. They always welcome you for a hot tea or horse’s milk. Don’t refuse.

ITINERARY: Osh city – Kolduck village – Kolduck Lake - back to Osh city.

Departure from Osh city. Drive to Kolduck lake , 2 hours. The village is located on the way to Sarytash village. Walk up to the two lakes. Have a lunch between two lakes. Enjoy the beauty of lakes. Back to Osh city.  

Sunday, 30 April 2017 05:32

Asankorgon mountains

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Category:hiking
Duration:  daytrip
Best Season:April - October
Difficulty:Moderate, passes at 2711 m
Requirements: Trekking shoes, waterproof & warm clothes,

hat, sunscreen & sunglasses.

Distance:10 km in trekking ( 4 hours )

 

DESCRIPTION: The feeling of adventure is mirrored by the impressive landscape; green hills and snowy peaks layered over each other to create a spectacular scene with only the grazing sheep to remind you that this is Earth.  At the highest peak of the mountain pass, the snow blows all around, impressing on you the ruggedness of such a remote land.

ITINERARY:  Osh city – Jyluu suu village- Asankorgon mountains –Saryoi summer camp – Osh city  

Early departure from Osh city. Arrival at the starting point of the hiking, 1:30 minutes. Head up to the pass through ancient trails. Crossing the small streams and walking across bushes is challenging. Have lunch at the top of the pass with the fascinating view of rocky dragon like mountain ranges.  Descend toward summer camp Saryoi. Cross the river to meet you driver. Back to Osh city. 

asaneng

 

Sunday, 30 April 2017 05:26

Kumbell mountains

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Category:Trekking
Duration:  daytrip
Best Season:April - October
Difficulty:Moderate, passes at 3 154 m
Requirements: Trekking shoes,

waterproof clothes, hat, sunscreen & sunglasses

Distance:16 km in trekking 

 

DESCRIPTION: Visit a Kyrgyz summer camp (jailoo) to experience traditional nomadic life. Join in as

your Kyrgyz host milks the mares for the essential ingredient of Kyrgyz’s national

beverage, kymyz. Taste national dishes in an authentic yurt. Spend a day walking or riding

among the fragrant juniper forests, valued for their medicinal benefits. Relax near the cool springs and streams. Join the shepherds herding their flocks. Conquer the high rocky slopes of the Alay mountains.

 

ITINERARY:  Osh city –Chyyrchyck Pass 2400 m – Kumbell Pass 3154 m - Saryoi summer camp – Osh city

Departure from Osh city. One hour drive on Pamir Highway takes you to the Chyyirchyck Pass. Start trekking. Trek three hours to get to the Kum Bell pass 3154 meter. See shepherds busy with making bread and milking mares on the way. Have lunch at the top of the pass.  Enjoy the stunning beauty of great Alay valley. Descend through the pass amongst evergreens. Arrive at locals’ camp and have a hot tea in a yurt. Meet your driver and go back to Osh city, 2 hours. 

Sunday, 30 April 2017 05:10

Tour: Karashagyl gorge

Written by

Category: hiking,

Duration: daytrip,

Above sea level: 1000 - 2820 meter,

Best Season: April-October,
Requirements: trekking shoes, waterproof & warm clothes, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses.

Distance: about 15 km

 

Description: Niceand colored hay fields.  Breathe the fresh air coming from the fragrance of evergreen trees and shrubs. Have the best tea made of the press water of cold springs. The tranquility you are seeking in the city will only be reached in this area. Get rid of the hot and dry climate of Fergana valley for a moment.  Enjoy the scenery of neighboring mountains and the local life of shepherd’s on top of the pass. Local people of the village come with their livestock to spend summer in these mountain slopes. They set up yurts and stay whole three months in a yurt.

Itinerary: Osh city –Bulolu village – Karashagyl gorge - pass 2820 m - Osh city

Depart early from Osh city. Drive on Pamir Highway about one and half hour and turn left to enter Bulolu village. Just twenty minutes’ drive on unpaved road with scenic rocky slopes brings you to the starting point of the hiking. Hike in a beautiful gorge covered up with evergreen trees. Two hours walking on a trail gets you to the pass. A nice valley of mountains opens up on the pass. Break for lunch. Follow the trail to go back to the main road from the next side of the mountain. Meet you driver to get to Osh city. 

    

 

Sunday, 30 April 2017 04:58

Great Pamir Highway

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Day 1. Osh – Sarymogol village – Tulparkol lake.

Breakfast. Drive to Sarymogol village, 4 hours. A nice valley opens up when you reach Taldyck pass (3600 meter). Green pastures with yaks scattered around. Arrival in Sarymogol village and cross the river to get to yurt camp at Tulparkol lake (3500 m). Enjoy the beauty of long stretched glaciers of Lenin Peak (7134 m). Walk around the lake.   Overnight & dinner in yurt.

Day 2. Tulparkol lake – border crossings – Karakul lake – Murgab village

Breakfast. Travel to Murgab village (6 hours). Cross the Kyrgyz border and drive on no man’s land about 20 km to get to Tajik border point. Nice Kyzylart pass (4280 m) and snowcapped glaciers at roadside. Cross Tajik border and head up to Karakul lake, 1 hour. Totally different landscape and relief opens up in front of you. Have lunch in guesthouse at Karakul lake. Short walk in the village. Travel goes on to Murgab via the highest pass Akbaital ( 4655 m) you will ever do in Tajikistan. Take photos of glaciers on the pass and be accommodated in a guesthouse, 3 hours. Optional, you can do a detour to Rangkul village and camel riding if you are not tired of driving before arriving in Murgab village.

Day 3. Murgab village – Madyan valley – Observotory – Alichur village

Morning drive to Madyan valley along a green lush riverside pastures, 1 hour. Trek up to the hot springs. Back to your car. Drive to a so called Observatory hill. You will see nice view of Muztak Ata peak of China on top of the hill if no clouds on the sky. Down the hill there is a soviet truck full of skulls of Marco Polo sheep inside. Once upon a time it was a hunting camp. Back to the main road and drive to Alichur village. Overnight and dinner in a guesthouse.

Day 4. Alichur  Bulungkul lake – Kargush pass – Wakhan corridor — Langar village

Breakfast. Travel to Langar village. We do a detour on the way by visiting Bulungkul lake. There is a small village next to the lake. Enjoy the geysers gushing on the way. See the lake and drive up to see the bigger Yashil kul lake. Back to the highway and head up to Langar village over the pass Kargush (4 344m). After the pass, travel follows the river Pamir, with the chance to admire the Big Pamir of Afghanistan with nomadic Afghan Kyrgyz caravans. Great rugged Hindu Kush mountain ranges welcome you right before entering Wakhan valley.  Overnight and dinner in home stay in Langar village. Visit petroglyphs outside of the village.

Day 5. To Ishkashim.

Breakfast. Travel to Ishkashim village. We do a detour on the way to admire the 12th century Yamchun Fortress rising from a platform of natural rock. Walk up to edge of the fort and you will have amazing view of Wakhan valley. Further up the hillside are located the hot springs at Bibi Fatima, with its crystal waters very rich in minerals. Another fortress Khaaka comes up along the way at Namadgut village when you get closer to Ishkashim village. It is worth a 10 minutes stop. Overnight in home stay at Ishkashim village. Optional, visit Saturday market in Ishkashim between Tajiks and Afghans if you happen to be on Saturday.

Day 6. Ishkashim to Khorog

Drive to Khorog. Again we do detour on the way to visit the hot springs at Garm-e-Chasma. Nice villages on the way to have more glances at Tajik culture. Stop along the way for a picnic lunch. Arrival in a Khorog city and be accommodated in a guesthouse. Afternoon, visit the interesting Regional Museum and Central Park of Khorog city. Evening hike in a Botanical Garden that has many various plants and trees to explore.

Day 7. Khorog to Darvaz
Breakfast. Travel to Darvoz district. Gorgeous road goes along the river up to the Vanj valley where road widens up. Road continues along the Afghan border up to Kalaikhum village with picturesque scenery.  Arrival in Kalaikhum village and be accommodated in a guesthouse.

Day 8. Kalaikhum to Dushanbe. 
After breakfast driving to Dushanbe along the Pang river with amazing views and traveling through numerous local villages. Deep rocky valleys and gorgeous mountains accompany you up to the Shurobod pass before Kulab village. Lunch in a Chaikana (local cafes). Visit 11th century Hulbuk Palace and one the world’s highest hydro power station Nurek. In the evening, arrival in Dushanbe. Accommodation in your hotel.

Thursday, 12 May 2016 17:02

Accomodation

Written by

 

Guesthouses

Village

Contact

Dream House

Gulcha, Alay

0778 604853

Gulcha Guesthouse

Gulcha, Alay

0555 141107

Klara

Gulcha, Alay

0777 086327

Aziz

Gulcha, Alay

0553 985001

Nurjamal

Gulcha, Alay

0772 105906

Batma

Josholu, Alay

0555 194345

Gulsun

Josholu, Alay

0551 329790

Rysbu

Josholu, Alay

0555 268635

Alay Yurt Camp

Kyrkol, Alay

0559 280582

Gulumkan

Sopukorgon, Alay

0550 227663

Azimkan

Sopukorgon, Alay

0773 976390

Yrys

Kichikarakol, Alay

0550 851566

Arstan

Chong Karakol, Alay

0554 959698

Aigul

Sarytash, Alay

0770 365454

Aisalkyn

Sarytash, Alay

0770 323279

Mirbeck

Sarytash, Alay

0773 076793

Eliza

Sarytash, Alay

0773 848811

Mirgul

Nura, Alay

0770 629714

Dyikanbai

Daroot Korgon, Chong Alay

0777 706370 

Abdish

Sarymogol, Alay

0556 092627

Musa

Sarymogol, Alay

0778 975391

Alima

Sarymogol, Alay

0771 044057

Guldar

Daroot Korgon, Cong Alay

0772 152991

Jibeck

Daroot Korgon, Chong Alay

0779 445857

Kunduz

Jashtilek, Chong Alay

0772 142733

Begaiym

Jashtilek, Chong Alay

0552 590029

 

 

The country code is + 996 (000000000). Dial the numbers in the list without zero if you are using international mobile operator 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         

From Osh  to

Time of  departing

Date  of  departing

Price

KARA-SUU

FROM 08:30 TO 16:00

EVERYDAY

30

ARAVAN

FROM 08:30 TO 18:00

EVERYDAY

30

ALAI REGION

     

DOORAT  KORGON

11:00, 14:00

EVERYDAY

300

SARY TASH

14:00

EVERYDAY

250

GULCHO

08:00, 12:00,14:00, 16:00

EVERYDAY

100

KARA-KULJA

08:20,16:20

EVERYDAY

100

DJALAL-ABAD  CITY

FROM 08:20 TO 17:40

EVERYDAY

120

ARSLANBOB

08:30, 14:10

EVERYDAY

200

SARY-CHELEK

07:45

EVERYDAY

370

TASH-KOMUR

13:00

EVERYDAY

240

KOCHKOR-ATA

13:20

EVERYDAY

180

TOKTOGUL

07:45

EVERYDAY

440

ALA-BUKA

07:30, 08:30

EVERYDAY

350

KERBEN

08:00, 09:30

EVERYDAY

300

KYZYL-KIYA

09:10, 17:40

EVERYDAY

120

KADAMJAI

08:20, 13:50

EVERYDAY

180

AIDARKEN

12:10, 14:30

EVERYDAY

220

ISFANA

07:00, 08:00

EVERYDAY

500

SULUKTU

09:30

EVERYDAY

500

Uzgen

     

BATKEN

07:00,09:00,10:00,12:00

 

300

Sunday, 31 January 2016 09:54

FAQ about the southern Kyrgyzstan

Written by

"Trip to Arslanbob"

We've done several treks in Kyrgyzstan and have found that with the exception of the popular Ala-Kol trek near Karakol, there isn't a lot of information that could help people choose a trek in Kyrgyzstan. With a view to sharing information with other travelers, here's a trip report for our recent trek to the Holy Lakes on July 3-6, 2015.

A longer version with photos is on our blog

TLDR: this is a beautiful hike, not as scenically stunning as the central Tien Shan but with varied mountain and jailoo scenery and cultural interest around the Holy Lake. More strenuous than expected, with some four-point scrambling on a near-vertical scree slope to cross Friendship Pass. The "trail" consists of steep cow paths and horse trails with crappy, loose underfoot conditions. The cost of hiring a guide, porter, and cook adds up.

Holy Lakes trek 2015

Our first trek of 2015 was to the Holy Lakes near Arslanbob. The local CBT coordinator, Hayat, is quite a character and one of the key people in the CBT movement in Kyrgyzstan. He arranged a guide (Abdul), porter (Zia), cook (Ugun), food, and camping gear for us. The porter seemed a bit of an extravagance since we usually carry our own gear. However, we were cognizant that we were somewhat out of shape and the hike was at altitude with a steep pass on day two. Other CBT offices provide guide/cooks but this was not the case at Arslanbob. The functions of guide, cook, and porter should have been combined in two people, as they were in our later trek in Sary Mogul. We got the impression that Hayat tries to provide employment for as many people as possible and therefore over-staffs treks. We enjoyed the company of Abdul, Zia, and Ugun, but their wages brought the cost of the trip to around $100 per day.

Day One (Arslanbob-Holy Rock-Ridge above Holy Rock)

9am–6pm. Lunch 1.5hrs. Gained 1600m. Final camp was at 3200m

This was a long hot and dusty days walking. Thankfully, the CBT includes a horse and horseman to haul bags up to the first nights camp. The first 3-4K you head North through the village past the old Soviet Turbaza (Summer Holiday resort). The main point of reference for the days walk is the distinctive cuboid Holy Rock, which can be seen on a hill top above the town.

We had lunch in a shady spot by the river in pasture lands. The cook prepared a delicious stew (dimlama) and we had melon for dessert. It was a real luxury to have freshly cooked food on a trek, but the time it took to light a fire, cook the meal, eat it, and clean up added a lot of time to each days walk.

We were warned that there was no water at the camp so we should stock up at a spring near the Holy Rock an hour before camp. However, the spring was a tiny trickle when we got there and although we eventually filled our bottles you might feel a little grossed out by the cow shit and slobber around the spring. It is possible that the spring will run out late season so our advice would be to keep filling bottles as you head up to the rock.

We sterilized the water from the spring with our Steripen. The guide drank the water directly from the stream and was a little sick the next day.

The Holy Rock was nothing particularly special but the views down valley were quite pleasant. The walk up to the campsite was steep in parts, crossing rolling green pasture and angling up slopes of wildflowers. A guide was useful to know which cow path to follow. This terrain would be a muddy, slippery nightmare in wet weather. Our camp was on a ridge below the Friendship Pass, which is the high point of the trail.

Day Two (Camp One-Friendship Pass-Holy Lakes)

Start time 7.30am. End time 3.30pm. Lunch break was 1 hour.

It was imperative to get an early start on Day Two. Thankfully, the weather was clear in the morning but the guide informed us that we should aim to get to the pass by 10am since the weather often turns by late morning. The backside of the pass is covered in snowpack so it is advisable to cross the pass early before the snow starts to melt and makes the walk down a little more treacherous.

We dropped down around 200m from the ridge to meet up with the obvious trail going left to right on the scree below the pass. The trail conditions were particularly rough as we headed up the slope. The scree was fairly unstable and it sat on top of a thin layer of dry and loose soil. On steep sections, the scree and soil crumbled underfoot. At times, we were scrambling up using hands and feet and needed the guide and porter to help us up. A couple of times, we inadvertently caused small rock falls as we scrambled up, which was dangerous for anyone walking below.

We hit a small patch of snow above the scree, which added to the fun! The snow patch was steep and was above a couple of patches of exposure. A slip up here could have been fatal. We headed over the snow without too much hassle and made it to the pass at 10.30. The backside of the pass was snowbound at the top and loose scree lower down. The snow was considerably more pleasant to walk on than the scree.

Lunch was on an overhang underneath some cliffs on the right side of the path down. After lunch, we hiked up a grassy slope to our right on an obvious trail. The view from the grassy ridge was spectacular. Fine views back up to the pass and at an overlook a little further on we got our first view of the Holy Lakes.

The trail conditions deteriorated once more and we really wished we had walking sticks since our knees and ankles were taking a battering. The last twenty minutes gave us some respite from the scree but added in the annoyance of slipping continually on the wild onion stalks!

The Holy Lake has a bunch of pilgrims huts for local villagers who come to make goat and sheep sacrifices at the Lake. We were invited into the camp to drink tea and eat bread (we passed on the offer of mutton) and then set up camp for the night.

Since a lot of sheep are slaughtered at the lake there is an abundance of mutton.. Despite eating almost no red meat at home, we decided to be more flexible about this in Central Asia. However, we maxed out at the Holy Lake. Chunks of dry mutton and mutton broth for dinner, and plov for breakfast, turned us off meat for the next few weeks.

Day three (Holy Lakes-Ontama)

Start time 8.30am. End time 6.45pm. Lunch stop 1.5 hours.

Day three starts with a gentle descent through pastures covered in wildflowers. You follow the stream that outflows from the upper lake to the lower lake (Paynav Kol). The trail bears left after the shepherds yurt on a well-defined horse path. The trail swiftly turns steep up a narrow canyon and the underfoot conditions deteriorated once more. Oh, how we rued the decision to leave our walking sticks at home!

The gorge tops out at a green pasture after an hour or so. We followed an obvious trail up through pasture land to the top of a green hill, where we could see back the way we came towards the Holy Lake. The views back to the massif reminded us of the wild views of the Olympic mountains in Washington state. The views in the other direction were a profusion of rolling pasture in every imaginable shade of green.

We headed left across a rare flat section of pasture. The trail descended down a steep slope towards an area known as the White Rocks. Beyond this giant outcrop of white granite, we saw the path ahead. We couldnt believe our eyes. The next section had switchbacks! The first we encountered on the whole trail! It would seem that the typical Kyrgyz attitude to trail building is draw a line between two points and build a trail along the line. This made the trail grueling and particularly unfriendly toward knees.

At the top we took the trail to the left of the ridge. The mountains on the other side of the valley were beautiful in the late afternoon light and we were particularly looking forward to the sunset from the camp on the ridge that Hayat had described back in the CBT office. We saw yak grazing up on the high pasture above the valley. We briefly descended into the valley along animal trails before heading up to the saddle to camp.

Except we couldnt camp at this spot. We found out later that a local shepherd had decided to set up for the night at this spot with 400 sheep! Our guide didnt initially mention this and marched on beyond the camp without saying anything. We were confused about where we were going and how far we had to go. At one point he dropped off the trail and headed down the side of the hill. After a long day, another section of steep off trail slope was definitely not appreciated! Eventually, we stopped at a small flat outcropping to set up camp and Abdul explained why we descended from the sunset spot. One of the occasional frustrations with Kyrgyz guides is that they seem to be reluctant to keep you updated on changes to the itinerary, problems, or time to camp.

Anyways, we were bummed to miss out on what would have been a fabulous sunset but after a long day we were soothed by another delicious dinner and tea.

Day Four (Unknown campsite to Arslanbob)

Start time 9am. Finish 2-3pm. Lunch 1.5 hours.

The morning began with an off-trail descent in search of the proper trail. This section was pretty crappy underfoot but once we got the main trail it was pretty easy going all the way back to Arslanbob. The trail is mostly through Jailoo (pasture) and after a couple of hours Arslanbob comes into view. The last hour of the trek was through the shady walnut groves that Arslanbob is famed for.

Overall impressions

Scenery: The hike takes you through quite varied landscapes. The dominant features were the snow-tipped peaks of the Babash Ata massif, the rolling green jailoos typical of much of Kyrgyzstan, and the blue-green alpine Holy Lakes. No glaciers or huge mountain ranges here: go to the central Tien Shan for that.

Culture: The lakes are a major pilgrimage spot for villagers so there is a fair amount of activity on the shore. However, beyond the occasional slaughtering of sheep it is difficult to ascertain any real religious ritual occurring. To be honest, it felt more like a local picnic spot than a site of great religiosity.

Difficulty 7/10

The trail was more grueling than we expected. There were a few personal factors that played into this. We were definitely out of shape, the hike was our first of the year, we were not acclimatized to the altitude, and we did not have walking sticks to help us on the steep slopes. However, even if the reverse was true it would have still been a tough hike. The trail conditions were not great, the temperatures were high, and there were a few scary moments heading up Friendship Pass. Most of the route consists of extremely steep ascents and descents on loose rock or dirt where it would be easy to twist an ankle. If you have a fear of heights or are not comfortable with scrambling on loose steep scree then do yourself a favor and hike elsewhere.

Osh to Kashgar via Irkeshtam

I made the trip at the end of June 2015. Figured this could help others planning the same. Don't take the overnight bus because you miss the incredible scenery. Plus, that bus crossed the border the same time we did.

This trip will take no less than two 2 days. The website below was of immense help. All the information was accurate at the time

NOTE: Stock up on snacks and plenty of water! There is absolutely none alone the way!

During your first day, you want to make your way to either Sary-Tash or Irkeshtam / Irkeshem / Erkeshtam / Erkeshtem. The marshrutka leaves the Osh bus station to Sary-Tash at around 2pm for 250 som. The bus is near the exit gate, away from the main area. The trip took about 4 hours. Sary-Tash is not the final stop so make sure you tell the driver when to get off. You should see a large gas station that divides the road. It is possible to get to from Osh to Irkeshtam in one day. You'll most likely get a ride from a truck driver, who will have to stay the night there anyway because of the border closing time. Pick the experience you want to have lol.

I met other traveller on the bus, and we stayed at Hotel Gostiniza? (on maps.me). Basically had the living room of a family's home. 500 som/night with dinner and breakfast. You would never guess, but there are many many other foreigners here, especially cyclists coming from/going to Tajikistan. Most of them stayed at the bright pink guesthouse.

We headed out early at 8am. Luckily we came across a passing marshrutka that was going to Irkeshtam. We paid 400 or 500 som each.

Here's what happened next:

9:11 checkpoint 1 finished

9:45 Kyr passport control

9:50 Get into random truck

9:56 Chinese passport check

10:00 walk along crazy line of trucks

10:15 first security check. You will give your passport to the Chinese immigration. They will check your bags. You will not get your passport back until you arrange transport with a driver . 400RMB/car no negotiation. You can wait for others who need to cross as well.

11:40 Passport check #2

12:52 Arrive in Uluqat (Border city)

2:25 We were told to get back in the car and driver gets our passports back from agent

2:34 Dropped off at passport control

3:15 Start lining up. Go thru border in groups

3:35 Finish border check.

We talked to the Osh overnight bus driver who crossed the same time we did, and he agreed to take us to Kashgar for 40 RMB/person. Alternatively taxis from the border are 50RMB/person. Bus arrived at the international bus station. It was about a 20-25 minute walk to the Old Town Hostel from there.

How to Cross Xinjiangs Irkeshtam Border to Kyrgyzstan

Border crossing from Xinjiang into other countries in Central Asia isnt necessarily difficult, but getting reliable, up-to-date information is. Take the Irkeshtam border crossing for an example – its one of the most common ways to travel from China to Kyrgyzstan and yet I have a hard time finding any published info on the process.

Thanks to the input of several travelers, I would like to present a simple “how to” to make crossing the Irkeshtam border easy for future travelers.

A map of how to cross the Irkeshtam border from China to Kyrgyzstan

*Special thanks to Sim Yi Hui and Jon LaRosa as well as Lee and Galen from Silk Road Hitchhikers for their contributions to this article.

Irkeshtam Crossing from Kashgar

Most people base their journey into Kyrgyzstan from Xinjiangs western city of Kashgar, although technically you could bypass the city and go straight there from Highway 314. For the purpose of this article, however, were going to assume that youre waking up in Kashgar.

The following is an hour-by-hour account of how to find your way across the Irkeshtam border (all times listed are Beijing Time despite the common use of local time around here).

8am – Kashgar: Wherever you decide to stay in Kashgar, most travelers decide to begin their journey at the International Bus station on the northern edge of town. From here you can find taxis that will take you to WuQia Zhen (in Chinese: 乌恰镇, known locally as Ulugqat). Taxis are usually rented for anywhere between 120-150 which, if you travel as a group of four, could be equally split to make things cheaper (this is the case for many places around Xinjiang). The journey should take a little over an hour.

10am – WuQia Zhen: You should arrive in WuQia Zhen early but your goal is to make it to the Chinese Border Processing Center at around 10am. One account of getting here referenced a golf cart that drove travelers from the road to the processing center. Border personnel will arrive at 10am but likely wont begin processing your passport until 10:30am. It is during this time that you need to arrange for a vehicle to take you across the border. It is virtually impossible to hitchhike. A taxi from here should cost about 100RMB per person or 400RMB for the car.

10:30am – Border Processing Center: Once everybody begins working, the actually processing of your passport should take no longer than 15 minutes. At this point you jump into your taxi to begin the journey.

Chinese  Irkeshtam  Border  Processing  Center

12pm-1pm – Checkpoint: depending on the speed of your driver, you should arrive at the intermediate checkpoint between 12:15 and 1pm. This shouldt be more than a cursory passport check but dont be surprised if they ask you to step out of the car.

1pm-2pm – Final Checkpoint: An hour after the first checkpoint youll reach the final checkpoint about 4km away from the Kyrgyzstan border. Unfortunately, like most everywhere in Xinjiang, lunch break starts at 1:30pm and usually lasts until 4:30pm. Unless your driver is particularly speedy, expect to waste a few hours at this final checkpoint waiting for patrol officers to report back for duty at 4:30pm. You should probably have a lunch prepared as all youre likely to find is a small store and maybe a hole-in-the-wall place to grab some food.

4:30pm – Final Checkpoint: At this point a lot of different things could happen. Chinese border guards are unpredictable and could let you right through or give you grief for a few hours. They may take your passport or they may just glance at it. Be prepared for anything. Once given the green light to pass, your taxi is no longer useful to you. One traveler describes having to board a “Chinese big truck” while another describes a “very nice bus”. Either way, it seems that transportation to the final 4km to the border is provided.

5:00pm – Kyrgyzstan Border: One traveler describes having to change transport at the Kyrgyzstan border (which he walked across) an then take a taxi to the Kyrgyz customs processing center. The one thing to note with this is that unless you already have Kyrgyz Som (money), youll probably have to exchange your Chinese Renminbi at the border for a terrible exchange rate.

5:30pm – Kyrgyzstan Processing Center: Unlike the Chinese border crossing, Kyrgyzstan will likely only take about 15 minutes. They will look at your passport, possibly write down the number and then stamp it.

5:45pm – Entering Kyrgyzstan: At this point you have a choice to make, especially after all the travel youve already done. You can try to negotiate transportation to Osh (another 4 hours at least) or you can take a much shorter ride to Sary-Tash (only 1 hour). A shared taxi to Sary-Tash should run you about 60-100 Som (approx. US$1-2 or 6-12 RMB). A shared taxi to Osh will run you between 1,000 to 1,500 per person (approx US$18-28 or 110-170 RMB).

Congratulations! Youre now in Kyrgyzstan. At this point you can hopefully find your way to a nice hotel to lay down and rest.

Special Notes | Irkestam Border

There are a few notes and warnings that I want to give for those considering crossing the Irkestam border in Xinjiang. This may not always apply, but its good to hear what has happened in the past.

First, sharing a taxi with Uyghur passengers could slow you down. Its sad, but its a fact. One traveler was held up at the border for an extra few hours because his fellow travelers were Uyghur. Its blatant discrimination but as one traveler told me “If you can, try to find Han Chinese to share a car with”. Perhaps easier said than done.

Second, cheaper transportation isnt better. It seems that it is possible to hitch a ride to Osh with a truck driver in Kyrgyzstan for half the price of a taxi…but it might cost you an extra 2-4 hours on the road. Is US$10 really worth the headache?

Third, remember the time change. This might not be hard if youve been living off of Xinjiangs “local time” that is two hours behind the official Beijing time, but just remember that once you cross the border into Kyrgyzstan, youre now officially two hours behind Beijing.

Finally, Lee from SilkRoadHitchHikers.com shared with me that it might work best to shift this schedule two hours later (i.e. starting at 10am instead of 8am). The reason for this is that even though he arrived at the border before the 1:30pm lunch break, they still wouldnt process him to go through. He contends that you might as well just sleep in and arrive around 3:30pm-ish to wait for them to open up again at 4:30pm. Any plan that involves sleeping in sounds good to me!

So thats it! I hope this has been helpful in your planning. If so, please share this or leave a comment below. Thanks!

Kilometers across Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek – Naryn – 360 km

Naryn – Songkol – 150 km

Bishkek – Osh – 660 km

Naryn – Cholpon Ata – 255 km

Bishkek – Songkol – 400 km

Songkol – Suusamyr – 140 km

Suusamyr – Toktogul – 232 km

Osh – Sarychelek – 350 km

Suusamyr – Bishkek – 200 km

Karakol – Jetioguz – 35 km  

Balykchy – Kochkor – 60 km

Kochkor – Songkul – 100 km

Bishkek – Toktogul – 360 km

Talas – Suusamyr – 220 km

Sarychelek – Chychkan – 180 km

Chychkan - Songkul – 260 km

Songkul – Osh – 796 km

Osh – Jalalabad – 100 km

Osh - Kazarman – 240 km

Kazarman – Naryn – 200 km

Songkul – Toktogul – 390 km

Songkul – Jetioguz – 360  km

Osh – Kazarman – 240 km

Bishkek – Kyzyloi – 190 km

Kyzyloi – Songkol – 170 km,  250  km via  Sarybulak

Osh – Uzgen – 55  km

Osh – Achycktash base camp – 380 km

Osh – Irkeshtam – 288 km

Osh - Sarytash – 200 km

Osh  - Sarymogol  -  220 km

Sarymogol - Tulparkul - 25 km

Kochkor – Suusamy valley – 130 km

Karakol – Kochkor – 260 km

Osh – Kyzylart – 360 km, 7 hours

Osh – Chychkan – 480 km

Bishkek  – Chychkan – 250 km

Saturday, 30 January 2016 15:02

CBT Kyrgyzstan Festivals

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Go to this link for more info on festivas across Kyrgyzstan:

http://cbtkyrgyzstan.kg/event/

Our partners

Thanks to our partners for helping make this experience special for you. For further details, visit our tour pages!

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